Development of Kingdom Hearts 3 hasn't exactly reached The Last Guardian status just yet, but it's no secret that Square Enix has been taking its time with the next major step in the story of Sora, Donald and Goofy. Development was initially delayed because most developers from the Kingdom Hearts team were working on Final Fantasy Versus XIII (now known as Final Fantasy XV), but with that game finally making significant progress, Square was able to return to its Disney meets Final Fantasy mash up.
The Japanese publisher first teased KH3 during E3 2013 with a short clip of Sora battling Heartless. Since then, further details have leaked out, including what's going on with the in-game engine along with some rumors that Marvel and Star Wars characters might make an appearance in the franchise.
In fact, speculation about which Disney worlds might show up in the next title hit a new high last week with the release of some screenshots detailing worlds that were in consideration for a now abandoned mobile game. The photos include concept art for Star Wars, Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen, among others.
So with development of KH3 now firmly underway, it's time to consider which Disney worlds could potentially make an appearance in Kingdom Hearts 3 or beyond. Here are 10 Disney worlds we'd love to see in Kingdom Hearts.
Might as well start with the franchise that has been most discussed in recent rumors. Obviously Star Wars was not originally a Disney property, but when George Lucas sold the rights to the franchise in 2012, Kingdom Hearts fans immediately got their hopes up.
The Star Wars universe is as vast as any on this list, but it would be cool if players could play through a few scenes from the actual movies in a fashion at least somewhat similar to how Kingdom Hearts 2 handled its version of TRON. One of the coolest parts of playing through a Disney world in Kingdom Hearts is checking out the new costumes Sora, Donald and Goofy wear in order to blend in with the environment. The Keyblade designed as a lightsaber, Goofy as C-3PO and Donald as R2-D2 all seem like obvious choices. While it might depend on KH3's release date, it would be cool if the game had a few references to the upcoming J.J. Abrams trilogy of new films.
Marvel's The Avengers
Marvel was the other rumored franchise to possibly get its due in the next Kingdom Hearts. While there are a lot of characters and worlds to choose from, The Avengers is by far Marvel's most popular series of movies based in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and there are at least three more major Avengers films releasing over the next four years, including The Avengers: Age of Ultron this May.
Going with an Avengers theme would let Square Enix squeeze as many Marvel characters into the game as they can. Costume possibilities for Sora and friends seem endless, but how about turning the Keyblade into an Iron Man-like arm cannon, turning Goofy's shield into the one from Captain America and transforming Donald's wand into something resembling Thor's hammer?
The characters in Kingdom Hearts are able to travel freely through different Disney worlds throughout the series, so a movie about video game characters that can travel into different worlds through the power cables in an arcade seems like a match made in heaven. TRON featured one of the trippiest looking worlds in Kingdom Hearts so far, but chances are the Pixar meets retro graphics of Wreck-It Ralph would give it a run for its money.
Wreck-It Ralph was a mash up of fake and real world video game characters, but the opportunity to see characters like Bowser or a ghost from Pac-Man in KH3 would touch all the right fanboy and fangirl buttons for a lot of people.
There isn't a soul on the planet who hasn't heard of Disney's runaway success by now, and there is virtually zero chance that this franchise will not show up in a future Kingdom Hearts game at some point. The only question is if it will be in Kingdom Hearts 3, but it's hard to imagine a way that Square and Disney could screw this up.
Disney recently released a new Frozen short film and also announced that Frozen 2 is on the way, so it's not like anyone is going to forget about this franchise, no matter how long it takes Kingdom Hearts 3 to see the light of day.
All that hardcore gamers would likely ask, is that however Square Enix decides to adapt this world into Kingdom Hearts, please, for the love of all that is holy, do not make everyone listen to "Let It Go" again. Let Sora scale a grand ice castle built by Elsa. Let Goofy and Donald get up to some crazy hijinks with Olaf by their side. Just please, no more of that darn song.
Just like with Star Wars, Disney now owns Pixar. Actually, they've owned them since way back in 2006. Back before Star Wars and Marvel came into the picture, a Kingdom Hearts Pixar adaption was at the top of the wish list for most fans.
The possibilities once again go on and on. Pixar's most popular franchise of all time is arguably Toy Story, and seeing Sora, Donald and Goofy run side by side with Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the Potato Heads would bring a smile to every face, regardless of age. That said, something from Wall-E, Monsters, or even Cars could also provide a fresh new look for the franchise.
Surprised? Don't be. While Star Wars is the franchise that everyone focuses on in the aftermath of Disney's deal with George Lucas, it's important to note that the deal was not for just Star Wars but for all of Lucasfilm. A deal would also likely have to be reached with Paramount Pictures, but here's hoping the famous distributor is looking to make up for the atrocity that was Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull by dishing out a little fan service. For the record, Disney does own the rights to all Indiana Jones projects from this point forward, as long as they cut some kind of deal to give Paramount a piece of the pie. Let's hope they can work something out.
As for the adaption itself, Kingdom Hearts games have already featured the world of Aladdin, so it's not hard to envision Sora and pals running through desert caves in search of treasure. Perhaps Square could go with a more real-world style to make it look more like the films and different from Agrabah.
When it comes to Disney movies in the 90's, The Lion King has long been the fan favorite, and the movie has rightfully already been included in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. But the next major Disney film to come out that decade might also be a good fit for Kingdom Hearts 3.
Pocahontas was and still is overshadowed thanks to just how popular The Lion King was back then, but it has a story that would fit in quite nicely with Sora's tale. Kingdom Hearts is all about removing corruption and darkness from people's hearts, and Pocahontas features a corrupt governor who is seeking gold from a Native American tribe. Wouldn't be too hard to demonstrate that the governor's corruption and greed is due to being corrupted by the Heartless.
Yes, Pocahontas did pick up a few thumbs downs back in the day for not being historically accurate and perhaps not politically correct, but that's nothing that Square Enix and Disney couldn't patch up for the game.
It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights. It's time for Sora to fight some Heartless on the Muppet Show tonight.
Maybe that's not how the song goes, or how creator Jim Henson ever envisioned the popular puppet franchise, but The Muppets have seen a resurgence in recent years thanks to the film with Ricky Gervais, so it's not as if this would be as big of a reach as it might have been just a little while ago. A chance to see Sora, Donald and Goofy rendered in the famous Muppets style opens a lot of possibilities. Who wouldn't love to see the boys getting heckled by Statler and Waldorf or watch them rock out with Animal?
Don't worry, there will be no appearances by Kevin Costner. While the movie that most people think of when they mention the man who robs the rich to give to the poor is 1991's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (or perhaps the later Men in Tights send up), Disney actually produced its own cartoon take on Robin Hood many years earlier.
The animated film was first released in 1973 and is notable for being the first film to start production after Walt Disney's death. It didn't get the best critical response, but was still a box-office success.
While there would be some groundwork that would need to be laid to bring gamers up to speed with the characters in this flick, the basic concept is already well known thanks to the more recent live-action films. Beating the Heartless out of some corrupt rich people to help out the friendly animals of Sherwood Forest seems right up Sora's alley.
Walt Disney World
No, it's not a movie, but if this article is really about famous "Disney worlds" coming to Kingdom Hearts, there's one magical and obvious place the series could turn to. Disney is of course known for its animation, but if there's a second thing the company is known for above all else, it's theme parks.
Sora and friends figuring out a way to end up in a virtual version of Orlando, FL might take a little creative thinking, but it's probably nothing the Gummi Ship couldn't pull off with the right blueprint.
Such a world would provide an opportunity for Square Enix to include just about any Disney character they'd like in the game. Maybe Donald and Goofy could even run into their costumed real world counterparts just for a cheap laugh. If coming up with a way to force this into the main story proves too difficult, Square Enix could simply create a world full of fun mini-games, like the Saucer in Final Fantasy VII. Want to ride Space Mountain with the holder of the Keyblade? Yes, please.
Do you have your own idea for a previously unseen Disney world that should show up in the next Kingdom Hearts? Or do you just want to sound off on how ludicrous you think the choices in this list are? Let us hear it in the comments!